Notable League Member: Eleanor Roosevelt

By Kayla Vix for LWVUS, March 2019
Updated By Connie Wolfman for LWVNapaCounty, March 2021

MARCH 1, 2021

One of the most active high-profile members of the League of Women Voters (LWV), Eleanor Roosevelt served as the League’s vice president for legislative affairs in the 1920s, helping to establish its policy agenda.

Roosevelt touted the League as a leader in engaging women with politics, saying, “The League of Women Voters trains good citizens who have a sense of responsibility about what goes on in their locality, in their state, and in their nation."

One of the most active high-profile members of the League of Women Voters (LWV), Eleanor Roosevelt served as the League’s vice president for legislative affairs in the 1920s, helping to establish its policy agenda.

Roosevelt touted the League as a leader in engaging women with politics, saying, “The League of Women Voters trains good citizens who have a sense of responsibility about what goes on in their locality, in their state, and in their nation."

Assuming the role of First Lady in 1933, Eleanor initiated dramatic changes. She was the first to hold her own press conferences. Underscoring her support for equal opportunity, she allowed only female reporters to attend because they were often excluded from presidential press briefings. Due to the president’s restricted mobility, she was often described as his “eyes, ears and legs,” traveling to communities across the country to learn firsthand about their needs and challenges.

She supported anti-lynching campaigns and fought for fair housing for people of color. In 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow Marion Anderson, an acclaimed African American singer, to perform in their auditorium, Eleanor protested by resigning her membership.

Following FDR’s death, President Harry Truman appointed Eleanor as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, where she served from 1945 to 1953. While chair of the UN’s Human Rights Commission, she helped to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she considered to be her greatest achievement.